Posted in Race Reports, Running

Race Report – 2013 Run in the Name of Love 5k

The 3rd Annual Run in the Name of Love 5k took place on Sunday, 16 June 2013. This was my first time running this race. This was also the first year that this race partnered with the Big Sur International Marathon organization and I have to believe that it really benefited from that partnership.

Check In/Registration and Race Swag

Check in was straightforward and simple. The volunteers knew what they were doing even if some of the participants didn’t. There were plenty of port-a-potties and no lines, which is always a good thing.

The race t-shirts were royal blue long-sleeve cotton t-shirts, which is great for wearing around on the weekend. Race directors please take note – not all of your race participants want or expect a technical t-shirt for every race. Sometimes a nice cotton t-shirt to lounge around in or run weekend errands in is perfect. And there were bandanas for the dogs.

Race Start

Parents at the starting line ~ In the Name of Love Run/Walk 2013
Parents at the starting line ~ In the Name of Love Run/Walk 2013

The starting ceremony was a bit awkward because apparently, the official ceremony happened in the registration area. When race officials realized that all of the runners and most of the walkers were waiting at the start line, they hustled up and had a second starting ceremony. I didn’t appreciate the announcer’s snide remarks about music. After all, who named him the music expert of the day? But other than that, the National Anthem was stirring and well-sung and all participants were wished well before being sent on their way.

The runners started first and the walkers were given a separate start about 10 minutes later. From a runner’s perspective, this was great because I didn’t have to navigate through the walkers in the early part of the race. The course for walkers was also much shorter so most of them were finished by the time slower runners like myself crossed the finish line.

Race Course

The course ran through the southern part of Carmel-by-the-Sea and north along the road above the beach so there were beautiful views all along the way. The volunteers did a good job making sure that no runners went astray. The water station at the half-way point was organized, well-run, and at a good point in the race.

The finish line was a little bit congested. This wasn’t the fault of the race organizers, rather, it was due to walkers and the dogs congregating just after the finish line and just after the medals. A suggestion for next year might be to move the water tables a little further down the road from the finish line so that people will naturally keep going after they cross the finish line and get their medals.

Post Race: Goodies and Medals

The volunteers giving out the medals did a pretty good job of identifying the 5k runners and the 2k walkers. It still feels odd to me, though, to have to walk up to a volunteer and ask for my medal.

After crossing the finish line, participants and spectators move down the road and then are separated into two streams – participants and spectators. Only participants with bibs are allowed into a corral where they were given bags with munchies. The post-race goodies were pre-bagged, just like at the Big Sur Half-Marathon. I think that’s great because it ensures that everyone gets the same amount of stuff and there’s no hold-up while people pick up their food.

I thought the method to separate the participants and spectators was excellent, as well. I’ve been to enough races where spectators go to the goodie line and grab food and drinks even though they didn’t run or walk in the event at all. After participants picked up their munchie bags, they merged back in with the spectators down the road to the beach where there were tables and chairs set up for people to relax and wait for the auction and raffle. We didn’t stay for either as we had brunch plans.

Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down

Thumbs Up: My entire family – including Rambo – was with me for this race.

The Garcia family walkers ~ Mama, Rambo, and Papa
The Garcia family walkers ~ Mama, Rambo, and Papa

Thumbs Down: Nothing really stood out as a “thumbs down” for this race, just some things that could be tweaked for next year!

Thumbs Up: This was a dog-friendly race.

Thumbs Up: The organization and the volunteers were exactly what I’ve come to expect from Big Sur Marathon events. Keep up the good work!

I would definitely recommend this race to runners and walkers, especially if they have dogs. Happy running!

Posted in Opinions and Thoughts, Running

From Disenchantment to Closure

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post. There are a lot of reasons for this – the holidays came up, my travel schedule this year has been more intense than in prior years, I’ve chosen to spend time goofing off, etc. But the main reason I’ve not written is that after the 2012 NWM, I became disenchanted with the running community. To be specific, the online running community. To be even more specific, the online running groups on Facebook.

The social aspect – online or in real life – has never been part of why I run. So it’s been frustrating that I let my disenchantment with these online running groups affect my running.

In these past few months, I’ve tried to overcome my disenchantment with my fellow runners. For me, part of overcoming any feeling is figuring out why. Why was I disenchanted with my fellow runners as a result of running groups on Facebook?

I could tell you specific reasons and even share screenshots with you. But that wasn’t the why that I needed to understand. The why that I needed to understand went deeper. Why was I letting these Facebook running groups bother me so? Even after I left the groups and deleted the chats?

For a long time, I couldn’t answer that question. But on a recent trip, I read a brief bit in Hemispheres, the inflight publication of United Airlines, that said we remember things that we see in social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) better and longer than things we see in any other medium. They aren’t quite sure why. They speculate it’s because of the chatty, gossipy nature of social media.

Somehow, after reading that handful of paragraphs, I felt validated for letting those Facebook running groups bother me. And although I’m not ready to engage with those groups again, I am ready to put those bad episodes behind me. I’ve achieved closure as a result of that magazine blurb and plan to get back in the habit of posting regularly.

Have you ever simmered, seethed, and steamed over a Facebook post or a Tweet? Share in the comments below!

Happy Running!

Posted in Race Reports, Running

Race Report – 2012 Big Sur Half-Marathon

The 10th presentation of the Big Sur Half-Marathon took place on Sunday, 18 November 2012. This is the tenth time I’ve run this race.

I talked to a friend who also ran this race and we both agreed – it was an off day for both of us. I had difficulty catching my breath and struggled to find a rhythm. Not sure why but I’m glad that I figured out early on in the race that it was going to be an off day for me so I reset my expectations and had a great time.

Expo and Race Swag

I usually pick up my race packet and go to the expo on Saturday but since my brother was here and running for his first time, we went on Friday afternoon. I realize that the people handing out the race bibs are volunteers but if they don’t want to be there, they shouldn’t be there. We waited about 5 minutes for the volunteer taking care of our two  ranges of numbers to come to his station, even though other volunteers had told him that he had a line. And when he finally did get around to taking care of us, he wasn’t the most pleasant person even though my brother and I were being as nice as could be. It was as if someone hit him with the grumpy stick when he woke up from his post-lunch nap.

I don’t usually buy anything at the Big Sur Half-Marathon expo just because it’s the last one of the year for me. By the time this event rolls around, I’ve already gotten everything I need at the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half-Marathon expo or online at Road Runner Sports. This time, though, I picked up a new running skirt and saved on the shipping and handling fee by buying it at the expo.

I’m not a fan of the Big Sur Half-Marathon’s virtual goody bag. It cheapens the whole experience for me. And it makes me a lot less likely to actually visit any of the vendors that had coupons in the virtual goody bag because I won’t bother to print out the coupons or flyers. I understand the whole point of the virtual goody bag but I don’t like it.

Race Start

As we were walking up to the corrals, the announcer asked if anyone could sing the National Anthem. Apparently, the singer that was supposed to be there didn’t make it. Someone in the crowd volunteered – I think she was a spectator and her son was running the half-marathon – and she was fantastic. I hope the race organizers got her contact information and ask her back next year because I have not heard such a pure and simple rendition of the National Anthem in a very long time. There were no trills, no runs, no vibrato, she didn’t sing in an octave that was beyond her control – she sang it simply and she sang it well.

The wave start was much, much better than last year.

The Big Sur Half-Marathon race bibs are personalized with the race registrant’s name – there is no option to have a phrase like, “In Honor of…” imprinted on the bib. Because race bibs – the selling of and the transferring of – have been on my mind a lot lately, I was looking at the race bibs in my corral. I noticed a guy wearing a race bib with the name Jennifer. He very definitely did not look like a Jennifer. Nor did he look like he was running in honor of a Jennifer. Obviously someone named Jennifer had sold or given her bib to this guy.

Race Course

Since this was my tenth time running this course, there weren’t any surprises. The course has not changed in the last couple of years. The scenery is always breath-taking, though, no matter how many times I see it.

A few of the aid stations ran out of cups. One aid station was reduced to using soup bowls. The second and third to the last aid stations were completely out of cups by the time I passed through so that meant no water or Gatorade unless you were carrying your own bottle. Not everyone carries their own bottle because they rely on the aid stations so to have two or three aid stations run out of cups is not good. The sad thing is that even though I’m a slow runner, I wasn’t the slowest one on the course so I felt bad for the other runners and walkers behind me.

Post Race: Goodies and Medals

The race organizers tweaked the “finish village” a bit this year so it was confusing for me. I’m not sure if it was better or worse but the end result was the same.

I got my official finisher’s photo taken by the MarathonFoto photographer. The photographer I chose was having fun with the finishers and having us strike poses. Instead of the usual finisher’s backdrop, they had arranged it so that the background was the wharf and Monterey Bay. I thought that was a great touch. After all, if you have great scenery around you, why shouldn’t you incorporate it?

The food tent was as efficient as last year. Goodies were already pre-bagged except for the cookies and bagels, which made sense because then you could choose what flavor of cookie and/or bagel you wanted. The low-fat chocolate milk was plentiful and delicious. I understand the whole point of being environmentally friendly and sustainable but the cups of water are just not sufficient or efficient for the end of a race.

Since my brother had done the event with me, I didn’t bother to check out the soup or beer booths. Maybe next year.

Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down

  • Thumbs Up: This was my big brother’s first race ever and his first half-marathon ever and he did great!
  • Thumbs Down: The weather report that predicted rain and more rain.
  • Thumbs Up: We had sunshine instead of rain.
  • Thumbs Down: Disinterested volunteers handing out medals at the end. When you have to ask for your finisher’s medal, that’s just not cool.
  • Thumbs Up: The enthusiastic volunteers and spectators along the course.
  • Thumbs Down: Having the announcer go on and on about the pace group leader that finished just before I did…which meant not having my name announced as I crossed the finish line. Small touches like this are important.
  • Thumbs Up: Seeing my name listed in the program as one of the “Grizzled Veterans” – the people who have run every presentation of this event.
  • Thumbs Down: Having my name misspelled in that list and having the disclaimer that the people on the list self-reported. It shouldn’t take too much effort for the race staff to research and verify – that disclaimer was quite a detractor.
  • Thumbs Up: All of the MarathonFoto photographers on the course meant a lot of photo choices – great job!

I’m looking forward to running this race again next year. Registration opens on 1 April 2013.

Happy Running!